An Oklahoma judge is defending his decision to require a teen to attend church for 10 years as part of a deferred prison sentence for manslaughter in a fatal car crash.
Judge Mike Norman told ABC News it’s not the first time he imposed such a requirement. "The Lord works in many ways," Norman said. "I’ve done a little bit of this kind of thing before, but never on such a serious charge."
Norman sentenced 17-year-old Tyler Alred after his guilty plea in the August crash that killed a passenger in Alred’s car, according to ABC and the Religion News Service. Police say Alred had been drinking before the accident.
Norman also required Alred to finish high school and complete welding school.
Ryan Kiesel, the executive director of the Oklahoma chapter of the ACLU, tells the Religion News Service that the church requirement is a "clear violation of the First Amendment." However, the defense and the victim’s family both supported the requirement and an appeal is unlikely.
"If the court or the district attorney attempts to enforce this requirement, we will look at possible ways to intervene," Kiesel told the Religion News Service. "I know the boy agreed to this, but is someone facing a judge in open court really making a voluntary decision? Government officials should not be involved in what is a very personal choice."
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